A while back I wrote a piece for the International Journal of Advertising called Ex Libris. [It's a regular column where someone shares books that are important or formative to them.]
A few people have asked me lately for some more book suggestions. So, here are some things I've read recently that I think you might enjoy in 2013.
The Nobel prize winning father of behavioral economics delivers his magnum opus and it's fantastic. This is required reading, no excuses, especially if you work in or around advertising.
A New Yorker article about pickpocket magacian Apollo Robbins led me down this rabbit hole into magic, neuroscience and cognitive illusions.
I have to admit to being a Kurzweil skeptic, in the classic bigot position of having not read any of his stuff but made up my mind already. I saw him speak at TEDx, was impressed, and read this book. It's explanation of neuroanatomy is impressive, and his track record of predictions is remarkably compelling.
The book explores the science behind all the different kinds of drivers that affect human behavior and decision making that operate below the level of consciousness and how our minds create rational explanatory fictions to explain our decisions to ourselves.
A seminal recent work in the field of strategy, Holt and Cameron point out that almost all brand and product propositions are derived from an escalation of rational and emotional product benefits. By thus conceiving all brands as a phenomenon of mind - rather than society or culture - the opportunities for innovation created by historical changes in society is ignored.
Simon has a wonderful way with words [and has just published his first novel] and this book takes us through a broad look at elements and ideas of modern brands in modern contexts.
Confessions of a Mad Man - George Parker [Kindle only]
In the world of advertising, George has been there, and George has done it. This is a sparkling memoir of the world's most incorrigible adman. There being really only one other contender...[See Sorry about the Lobsters by Neil French, currently only available from his website.]
LIES [also know as fiction]
SciFi is the last bastion of the 'novel of ideas' where a philosophical discussion plays out as speculative narrative. This is a wonderful, thought provoking book about the morality of power and the nature of society, stratifed into cyborgs, superhumans and norms.
Suarez's first book was rejected numerous times and finally published thanks to being championed by the tech community. It's a remarkable tech thriller, based on a very deep understanding of technology, that poses some big questions about the near future, but reads like you are inside a video game. The sequel, Freedom, is even better.
Klosterman's novel about a voyeur with the technology to make himself invisible is appropriately weird, disturbing and beautifully realized, and reminded me that maybe SciFi isn't the only remaining home for a novel of ideas.
Enjoy, let me know what you think, feel free to add some other recommendations in the comments.